It may be 2011, but I’m pretty sure my iPod thinks it’s 1999. In short, I love 90s pop. I know the lyrics to I Want it That Way better than the words to the Penn State fight song, and there’s nothing quite as exciting as walking down an aisle in Target when a random but completely appreciated *NSYNC song comes on. Leave it to 90s bubblegum pop to take you back to the simpler days of Furbies, Disney Channel Original Movies (that were actually good) and the pure awesomeness of everything involving the Olsen twins.
The best part of the late 90s was the boy band phenomenon. With the success of more memorable acts like the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC, in a matter of months countless groups of perfectly harmonized, decently attractive boy bands popped up on the scene. While most of us still rock out to the Backstreet Boys and *NYSNC every now and then (or, if you’re like me, every day), here are my top 10 favorite boy bands of the 90s and 2000s that you may have forgotten about. So break out your walkman and let the harmonies begin…
Listen to: Back Here
Dare I say the best thing to ever come out of England, BBMak is one of those boy bands that fell off the face of the planet with the turn of the millennium. Made up of Mark Barry, Christian Burns and Stephen McNally (which combine together to give you BBMak, explaining the group’s totally bizarre name) BBMak saw immense popularity in the U.K. and slightly less success here in the States. Despite my continued love of these British studs, nowadays, Back Here is one of those songs that tends to be relegated to dentist offices, elevators, and supermarkets.
Listen to: Girl on TV
LFO is still one of my favorite boy bands of all time. Why? For their deep and meaningful lyrics of course: “Shooby-doo-wop and Scooby snacks/ I met a fly girl and I can’t relax” and ” Like the color purple, macaroni and cheese/ Ruby red slippers and a bunch of trees”. Sad as it is, I only realized last week that about 23% of their lyrics actually make any sense at all. But really, who wants to listen to a song that makes sense?
3. Savage Garden
Listen to: I Knew I Loved You
Belting out power love ballads and strumming on guitars, Savage Garden set themselves apart by being slightly more sedate than the rest. Then again, watch the music video for I Knew I Loved You and I guarantee you’ll never be able to look at these guys the same way (or take the train without carrying pepper spray). It’s 3 minutes and 50 seconds of the lead singer playing eye tag/ stalking a girl on the train and singing to himself. Note to self: Don’t sit next to the loner with the guitar. Great band, good song, sketchy video.
Listen to: The Hardest Thing
Before there was Vanessa Manillo, before there was Newlyweds, heck even before there was Jessica Simpson, Nick Lachey was just another boy in a band called 98⁰. Never quite reaching the success of Backstreet Boys or *NSYNC, but far surpassing the likes of O-Town and BBMak, 98⁰ was definitely the most soulful boy band around. Always perfectly harmonized and rocking flawlessly toned bodies, a 98⁰ reunion tour is all I want for Christmas this year.
Listen to: All or Nothing
I can’t lie: I’m pretty sure All or Nothing was the only song that anybody, including myself, ever listened to by O-Town. There was nothing super remarkable or unique about O-Town, which is probably how they ended up disappearing after dropping only two albums. With that being said, All or Nothing is still one of my favorite songs to belt out when I’m alone in my dorm room (my sincere apologies to my neighbors).
6. Dream Street
Listen to: It Happens Every Time
You may or may not remember Dream Street, but watch the music video for It Happens Every Time and you’ll recognize the squirt in the front as none other than a prepubescent Jesse McCartney. Comprised of mostly 12 and 13 year-olds, Dream Street attempted to coast on the popularity of boy bands with a slightly younger set of talent. I am quite proud to say that my roommate and I learned the dance to It Happens Every Time (that was one weekend well spent).
Listen to: MMMbop (obviously)
Chances are, you probably remember the Hanson brothers, and MMMbop is already a favorite in your 90s playlist (I know you have one, and if you don’t have one, I highly suggest making one). Low and behold, Hanson is still together. And if you haven’t heard any of their new songs in a while, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Props to these guys on staying together for 19 years now (and for getting way more attractive haircuts).
8. Aaron Carter
Listen to: Aaron’s Party (Come Get It)
Okay, so Aaron Carter isn’t exactly a boy band (one man band anyone?)…but let’s face it: when you were in third grade, he was pretty fly (not so much anymore). If you’re ever at an awkward party, throw on some Aaron Carter, and I guarantee it will be the best decision you ever make. While it may not help out the awkward factor, in my experience, girls (and some guys) get as excited for a good old Aaron Carter song as they do a shoe sale at Saks.
Listen to: Slam Dunk (Da Funk)
They just don’t write ‘em like this anymore. For anyone who’s ever seen the Disney Channel movie “Smarthouse”, Ben has a highly entertaining dance in the living room to this epic song. “Do you wanna get down/Do you wanna get funky” are probably the two most poetic lines ever written. Best remembered for their blend of pop and rap (and excessively large pants), it saddens me greatly that Five has become just another forgotten boy band.
Listen to: My Love
For those of you who have never even heard of Westlife, all I can say is that you have been seriously missing out for the past 16 years. Westlife is the U.K.’s equivalent of the Backstreet Boys. Their perfectly-synced harmonies, amazingly choreographed dance moves and sticky sweet lyrics are enough to make any girl swoon for these British superstars. Do yourself a favor and download every song they’re ever recorded right now.
What exactly made boy bands so phenomenal in the 90s? Was it their oversized outfits and perfectly quaffed hair? Maybe it was their winning smiles and wholesome personalities? Whatever the case, these boy bands (even the forgotten ones) will always hold a special place in my heart and iPod.
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